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Film

The photographer's canvas


Variety in photographic film is extensive. Knowing which film is right for your camera and your application is important.
Variety in photographic film is extensive. Knowing which film is right for your camera and your application is important.

Who hasn’t overheard a customer in a camera shop say “I’d like a roll of film, please,” followed by the inevitable “Certainly. What kind?” which can cause a puzzled look to appear on the shopper’s face. Some people just aren’t aware that film comes in a wide variety of sizes and types, and assume that a roll of film - any film - will fit their camera and suit their photographic purposes.

Most of us at least know that we must use a specific size (or format) of film for our camera, but a lot of folks don’t realize they have a tremendous choice of film, don’t know what the differences among their choices are, and have no idea when to use one film over another.


FILM SELECTION

The principle factor that determines selection of film is the subject to be photographed. Since there is a huge variance in scenes and subjects, a film that is ideal for one subject may be completely unsuitable for another. Other factors include the type of camera to be used, how a photographer wishes to photograph the subject to achieve the kind of images he or she wishes to capture, the subject’s illumination, whether the final image will be a black and white or color print, or a slide, and so on.

If you are planning to use a lot of film, many types are available in extra-long rolls that can be bulk-loaded. You will, of course, need a bulk film loader.
If you are planning to use a lot of film, many types are available in extra-long rolls that can be bulk-loaded. You will, of course, need a bulk film loader.

Inserting a roll of bulk fim into the loader requires complete darkness to ensure that the film doesn't accidentally get exposed to light.
Inserting a roll of bulk fim into the loader requires complete darkness to ensure that the film doesn't accidentally get exposed to light.

FILM IS YOUR CANVAS

Just like an artist applying paint to a canvas, the photographer introduces light to film to make a picture. A good photographer is a kind of artist and, like the painter, must understand the fundamentals of his or her tools and materials, including film, in order to make better pictures.


This section of Photographytips.com deals with film and its differing characteristics and applications. We hope it will provide you with answers to your questions about film, serve as a guide to you in the selection and use of film, and help you to make better images.

BASIC DIFFERENCES IN FILMS

The fundamental ways in which films differ from one another are:

1. Format (principally roll and sheet film),
2. Size,
3. Sensitivity to color,
4. Film speed,
5. Graininess, and
6. Gradation (contrast).

We invite you to click on the headings below, at the bottom of the page, and in the left-hand column to learn the significance of these differences and for in-depth information on film. Or, in the case of digital photography, to find out about taking pictures without film.

SEND US YOUR FILM TIPS

You are also invited to send us your tips and hints relating to film. We will be sure to include your name as the source of any of your tips that we feature, and we will provide you with a credit.

Bulk film is loaded into cartridges (cassettes) that can be disassembled and securely reassembled.
Bulk film is loaded into cartridges (cassettes) that can be disassembled and securely reassembled.


Further information...

Film format

Film sizes

Sensitivity to color

Film speed

Graininess of film

Gradation

Infrared film

Professional film

Film storage

Scratches on film

Processing black & white film
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